Dispatches from a Public Librarian
by Scott Douglas
Da Capo Press, 2008
Scott Douglas is a librarian somewhere in California's Anaheim Public Library system. He is young, not too hip, and not completely sure of his career choice.
Many years ago when I and a friend were lowly pages in the Toronto Public Library system, we talked about all the stories we could write about life in the library. Today as a librarian and budding author, I am always interested in reading about the library experiences of others. I picked this book up expecting to read funny stories; what I got was much more.
Scott admits that many of his stories are exaggerated to increase the humour factor; he has also changed the names of his "characters" and created amalgams of others. Still, I recognize many of the people from libraries I have worked in, and I'm sure other librarian-types will too. I am just concerned about what our patrons will think of us if they read this book! They may never look at us in in quite the same way again. We seem so unassuming.
I didn't expect insights along with the funny stories, but Scott's insights are what really make the book. As he relates his tales, he thinks about what they mean for himself, his coworkers, the patrons, and the future of libraries. In spite of his uncertainty, he comes to the conclusion that libraries have a function and place in our society, and he will be a part of keeping libraries relevant and attuned to the communities they serve.